Georgia played an exhibition game at exhibition quality on Thursday night as they snuck by the Hurricanes of Georgia Southwestern, a powerhouse hailing from the mighty ranks of the NCAA’s Division II.
I realize that UGA was without Kenny Gaines, the team’s second-leading scorer from a year ago. And I realize that Coach Fox intended to play a lot of guys and try some different lineups, which he did. It was a glorified scrimmage; I get it.
However, Georgia looked awfully competitive with the Hurricanes tonight, especially when they headed to the locker rooms at the break trailing GSW by a score of 26-23.
For nearly 30 minutes Georgia looked out of sorts and stagnant on offense, misusing screens and struggling to feed the ball inside effectively. UGA shot under 35% from the floor in the first half, and they connected on just 2 of their 15 three-point attempts in this game. Finally – about midway through the second half, J.J. Frazier, who ended up with 9 points, was able to start penetrating the stout Hurricane defense, getting to the line and creating some offense.
Georgia ended up extending its lead into double-digits with several minutes remaining in the game, only to let GSW close the gap to four, giving UGA the 65-61 win. To be fair, the Dawgs had the bench cleared during this entire stretch.
While it was encouraging to see Kenny Gaines on the bench in street clothes – I guess he is not bedridden – it was quite clear that his absence will be difficult to replace if he cannot go next Friday night in Atlanta against Georgia Tech. Juwan Parker finished with 10 points on the night, but he shot the ball horribly from the outside, missing badly on all of his three-point attempts.
Yaten Maten recorded a double-double in his first appearance inside Stegeman, scoring 10 points to go along with 12 boards and 4 assists. He definitely has a nice build and he looks like he could develop into a nice player for Coach Fox, but the key word here is “develop”. Most of Maten’s points tonight were of the second-chance variety, which will be much more difficult to come by when he starts taking on opponents that are his size or bigger.
Not to beat a horse to death, but this game provided a small example of just how much Georgia could miss Brandon Morris this year, especially his length and ability to drive the ball to the basket off the dribble. Cameron Forte had a couple of nice takes tonight in the second half, but he doesn’t quite have that same explosiveness that Morris had when he got into the lane.
Whatever medication the UGA staff is administering to Kenny Gaines needs to be doubled ASAP. Georgia has to have him in the lineup when they start the season because without him they don’t have a lot of viable scoring options.